Reducing stigma

Cape Support for Mental Health (CSMH) October is Mental Health Awareness Month, which has the aim of educating the public about mental health and reducing the stigma and discrimination that people with mental illness are often subjected to.

Unfortunately, mental illnesses are still often regarded as shameful, not talked about openly, and hence not properly understood.

Schizophrenia is one of the most traumatic, and least understood, mental illnesses and has a profound impact not only on the patient but on the family. The symptoms include bizarre delusions, hallucinations, and changes in emotions and behaviour.

The illness interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, to distinguish reality from fantasy, to manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others.

Schizophrenia affects about 1% of the population worldwide, and it is regarded as incurable, though treatable.

Most often, it begins in the 18 to 28 age group.

Treatment involves the use of antipsychotic.

Reducing stigma medication, as well as psychosocial support, with family involvement being critical.

Outcomes vary, with some patients able to resume a reasonably functional daily life.

Cape Support for Mental Health (CSMH), founded in 1981 as a support group for families and friends of those living with schizophrenia, has helped many families cope with the difficulties and challenges posed by this illness.

It provides emotional support, up-to-date information about the disease and its treatment, and practical advice about available resources and procedures.

Monthly meetings on the last Monday of the month at 7pm are currently being held via Zoom. Speakers include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other professionals.

Two or three times a year, the meeting takes the form of small group discussions.

If you are interested in joining, or for more information, call Marijke at 021 685 4398, or email info@capesupport.org.za

Meeting details are posted on www.capesupport.org.za and the next meeting, on Monday October 26, features speaker Dr Helena Thornton, a psychologist at Valkenberg Hospital. Attendance is not restricted to members.

Mental Health Awareness Day is on Saturday October 10 and the theme for this year is “Mental Health for All – Greater Investment, Greater Access”.